Senator Elizabeth Warren testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee on May 4where she highlighted the use of crypto in crime and evasion of sanctions.
Use of cryptography by Russia and North Korea in 2022
During his testimony, Warren said:
“Cryptocurrency is now the method of choice for countries to evade sanctions so they can fund weapons programs, support espionage, and promote cyberattacks.”
Warren explained that while much cryptocurrency-related crime is “hidden,” more than $20 billion in illicit transactions took place during 2022, an estimate that is consistent with recent data from Chainalysis. Warren further noted that Russia and North Korea moved at least $8 billion via cryptocurrency.
She added that according to the UN Security Council, North Korea is using stolen cryptos to fund nuclear weapons programs. Lt. Gen. Scott D. Berrier acknowledged it was “a threat we recognize” when asked by Warren if it was.
Warren also asked April D. Haines, Director of National Intelligence, if crypto posed such a threat. Haines responded by stating that cryptocurrency not only contributes to North Korea’s weapons development, but also threatens network security.
Warren sheds light on Islamic groups and Russian ransomware
Warren also said that Binance had handled $8 billion in Iranian crypto transactions since 2018. She said those transactions included some of the crypto earned by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, which operates the largest Bitcoin mining operation. from the country.
Finally, Warren said that the main ransomware groups would be operated by Russian actors and added that virtually 100% of ransomware payments are made in payment, based on data from an old Homeland Security report.
Haines and Berrier again responded that these activities pose a threat.
Warren concluded that she and Sen. Roger Marshall plan to reintroduce a bill to strengthen the regulation of crypto-created crime. She said this bill is different from securities regulations that aim to protect investors from fraud.
Warren has long been a harsh critic of cryptocurrency. In late March, she said her re-election campaign would involve “building an anti-crypto army.” She previously attempted to push forward a crypto regulation bill in December 2022.
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